Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 8:11-30

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A sign from heaven - Mark 8:11

The Pharisees again came to argue with Jesus. They were not coming to learn or to be healed. They came to test him. This is the same Greek word used to describe Satan tempting Jesus (1:13). They argued with him and challenged him to give them a sign. Earlier Jesus would not perform miracles when confronted with hardhearted unbelief in Nazareth and elsewhere.

Jesus sighed deeply - Mark 8:12-13

Jesus' emotions are evident when Mark states that he sighed deeply. The repeated unbelief and antagonistic challenges frustrated and discouraged Jesus. This was not a fleeting, momentary emotion, but rather a sensitivity that was rooted in his spirit deep inside him. See note at 7:34 regarding Jesus' emotional life. Jesus' use of the word generation set this confrontation in the context of the unbelieving wilderness generation of Israel's history (Num. 32:13; Deut. 32:5). On this occasion he refused to give any kind of a sign to those whose hearts were already firmly set against him. Jesus' intensity of feeling comes out in his use of the words truly I say to you and his refusal to give a sign. Jesus' miracles had already been a sign of the presence of the kingdom of God. Those signs demanded a response of faith. Jesus refused to submit to the testing of the hard hearted unbelief of the Pharisees. His put his refusal into action by leaving them.

Yeast - Mark 8:15

Yeast grows and spreads throughout bread as it is made. Later in this chapter Jesus would boldly predict his suffering death. Here he warned the disciples of the danger of the unbelief of the Pharisees and the rulers established by Rome like Herod.

Disciples misunderstood - Mark 8:16

The disciples completely misunderstood Jesus' warning about yeast. They thought he was talking about literal bread. In so many ways they still did not recognize the spiritual battle that was raging around them. Their inability to see that spiritual battle was why it was so important for Jesus to warn them. In some ways they did not seem much further along in their understanding than the Pharisees.

Understand - Mark 8:21

"Do you not yet understand?" Jesus' frustration with the twelve came out in this question. He was grieved at how long it was taking for them to understand who he was and what he was doing.

Healing of the blind man- Mark 8:22-26

This healing of the blind man took place in the context of the disciples' need for increased spiritual insight (8:18). Possibly Jesus took the man outside the village away from the misunderstanding crowds to avoid stirring up the wrong kind of messianic excitement. Most likely he also sought out a place where he had the complete attention of the disciples. This healing was different from every other healing in the gospels. It was a complete healing, but it only came in stages. It seems that Jesus was teaching the disciples that they would come to full spiritual sight and understand who he was, but it would only be a gradual process of growing clarity.

The Affirmation of the Messiah. - Mark 8:27-30

These verses are the centerpiece of Mark's Gospel. Everything before them builds toward Jesus' question, Who do you say that I am? and Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah. Everything after these verses focuses on defining Jesus' messiahship as the suffering servant of Isaiah.

Caesaria Philippi - Mark 8:27

Caesaria Philippi was a town named for Augustus Caesar. It was about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It was there that Jesus started this conversation by asking a question. He did not ask his question so he could learn something. He intended to lead the disciples forward another important step in their training.

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